Ulster undone after late try ruled out

Ulster coach Dan McFarland admitted the winning and losing of the United Rugby Championship match in Cape Town against the Stormers should have not come down to replacement prop Callum Reid’s disallowed try with two minutes remaining.

By Ciaran Donaghy
Sunday, 27th March 2022, 6:45 pm
Updated Sunday, 27th March 2022, 6:46 pm

Despite the heat in South Africa, Ulster were caught cold as the Stormers scored two converted tries in the opening six minutes to race into a 14-0 lead.

However, Ulster rallied, gradually chipping away at the home side’s lead with a Marty Moore try and the boot of John Cooney.

Ulster had wasted a number of opportunities in the Stormers 22 before Stuart McCloskey’s converted try cut the deficit to three points.

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Ulster Head Coach Dan McFarland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Reid looked to have won it for Ulster with a close range try but was adjudged to have dropped the ball and knocked on in the process.

“The story would have been a different one if we’d taken a couple of chances that we should have done,” stated McFarland.

“In my head we’ve won that game. We’ll move on. We don’t have the four points that go with winning a game.

“We found areas of the game where we put them under pressure, particularly our aerial kicking game and our game close to their line when we were able to generate a bit of momentum.

“We built back into the game gradually. Through that second-half we put together a series of ten minute chunks that really wore them down,” added McFarland.

“The story would have been a different one if we’d taken a couple of chances that we should have done. We didn’t but they’re a good team. We put the pressure on, we’ve scored a great try, but we’ve come away with one point.”

McFarland saw no reason why Reid’s potential match-winning try should have been chalked off.

“I have to be really careful what I say. As I viewed it initially, my personal opinion of looking at it, I can’t understand why that’s not a try.

“If it’s not a try because he’s not grounded it then why is he not deliberately knocking it out of his hands and a knock-on.”

Luke Marshall made an impressive cameo from the bench in his first game since suffering a knee injury in November 2020.

“Luke did a great job,” McFarland said.

“He looked sharp, he looked bullish, he was strong; he carried strongly and he was getting involved like he always does so that was very pleasing.”

The coach was happy with how his side matched the Stormers’ power.

“The Stormers have some really good ball carriers, some good tackles and their No8 Evan Roos is an excellent player, and he caused us a bit of damage at times. But I thought we did a decent job and I’m pretty pleased with the lads.”

Scrum-half Paul de Wit finished off a lighting counter attack for the Stormers after two minutes with out-half Maine Libbok converting. Winger Leolin Zas crossed four minutes later for a converted try.

Moore opened Ulster’s account on 21 minutes, rumbling over from close range with Cooney converting.

Libbok and Cooney landed two penalties each in the last quarter of the opening period as the Stormers went into the break with a 20-13 lead. Libbok added another penalty before McCloskey’s converted try proved to be the last score.

DHL Stormers: W Gelant, S Senatla, R Nel, D Willemse, L Zas, M Libbok, P de Wet, S Kitshoff, C Solomon, F Malherbe, A Smith, M Orie, D Fourie, E van Rhyn, E Roos.

Replacements: JJ Kotze for Solomon 58 mins, B Harris for Kitshoff 64 mins, N Fouche for Malherbe 44 mins, C Evans, H Dayimani for van Rhyn 54 mins, J Pokomela for Fourie 56 mins, H Jantjies for de Wet 58 mins, R Pretorius for Willemse 70 mins.

Ulster: M Lowry; C Gilroy, S Moore, S McCloskey, R Lyttle; B Burns, J Cooney, E O’Sullivan, R Herring, M Moore, A O’Connor, K Treadwell, G Jones, M Rea, D Vermeulen,

Replacements: T Stewart for Herring 69 mins, C Reid for O’Sullivan 55 mins, G Milasinovich for M Moore 56 mins, M Kearney for Treadwell 76 mins, J Murphy for Jones 18 mins, D Shanahan for Cooney 75 mins, L Marshall for S Moore 63 mins, E McIlroy for Gilroy 51 mins.